Members Online Show Awards

Juror Alain Picard’s Comments on the 2020 Members Show Award Winners

I am honored and delighted to have served as Juror of Awards for the Vermont Pastel Society’s inaugural Members Only Online Show. I’d like to share a few comments regarding how I select award winners before talking about each of the top winners specifically. There are four categories of consideration that I use to evaluate the work.

First off, I look at The Fundamentals.  This is the skillful deployment of color, composition, drawing, proportions, perspective, tonal values, and edge quality. These are the foundational elements of the painting. Have they been executed with skill and mastery?

Next I consider  The Medium.  This is the skillful handling of pastel. The mark-making, surface effects, and creative techniques that are used in the application of soft pastel in all its various approaches.

Moving on from there, I consider  The Artist . Is there a unique point of view in the painting? Can I identify a clear artistic voice speaking through the work? Does the artist use poetic expression in the handling of the medium? Is there a strong concept and a clear intention being delivered? These qualities of the artist are powerful influencers in the resulting painting.

Finally, I consider  The Art . This is that intangible resonance of the work. It’s the painting’s ability to impact the viewer, reach in and stir something inside of you. There is a power in a painting that somehow gets unlocked through the passion of the artist, and it takes on a life of it’s own. This is one reason why great art lives on for generations, why we are moved when we enter a museum and behold a work from generations past as it speaks to us today. I’m searching for this resonant power in the painting.

All four of these categories—the Fundamentals, the Medium, the Artist and the Art—are considered in making decisions as Juror of Awards. Now to the Award winners.


Last Light  by Patti Braun

Last Light received best in show. As I view this elegant landscape, the design, color harmony, mood and atmosphere all coalesce to create a moment in time that connects with the heart and speaks to the soul. I can feel the air hovering over the mountains and the warm late day light as it moves up the tree line until it’s gone. This wonderful celebration of nature reveals the artist’s admiration for and connection with the scene. I admire in particular the use of color deployed to convey emotion and atmosphere. We feel the moment, and we are rewarded greatly.


Tractor Study #5  by Robert Carsten

Second place went to Tractor Study #5. This piece is a truly unique vantage point on the art of abstraction. Rooted in direct observation of an antique tractor, the artist has transformed the surface environment of this machine into a technicolor delight of texture, light and shadow. Ultimately, it is the compositional drama, created through the play of light and shadow on the surface and conveyed with highly chromatic hues, that won me over. No one else has observed a tractor in such a unique way and shared their unique artistic vision with such joy and celebration.


Nearing Twilight by Katrina Thortensen

Nearing Twilight took 3 rd  place in this exhibition. The sky in this subtle and restful landscape is painted with such elegant restraint that it creates a sensory experience for the viewer. The depth of atmosphere is felt as much as seen through control of value and edge as well as the unity of color harmony. The soft light dances across the grass and rides over the clouds through sublimely rendered color. The moon is now in view, such a tender and skillful touch revealing thousands of miles of atmosphere and space between the viewer and this lunar sighting. What a beautiful scene, and a sense of place the artist has created for us here.


The Blues by Shelli Duboff

Pure joy. That is the direct emotion I encountered when setting eyes on this painting entitled, The Blues. It’s a clever composition that emphasizes energetic diagonals to evoke a musical celebration of the genre. The artist has captured a feeling of music so well. I can’t as much hear the sounds as I can feel them resonating in my body in cadence with the fingers of the musician’s hand. That’s what makes this painting more than a portrait of a man or a description of a jazz player. It is a true visceral expression of joy.


A History of Baseball #3 by Monica Hastings

A History of Baseball #3 is a narrative still life painting that sensitively and lovingly observes articles of our national past time. The surface effect of the leather gloves, well-worn and aged, is treated with great care. The color and value of aged and crackled leather depicted with wonderful grace. I enjoy experiencing the meandering line created by the outside edges of the gloves as you travel from one old soul to the next. What a special homage to the game of baseball, and to the art of pastel.


Felicity by Alla Hiser

Felicity takes the 3rd Honorable Mention in this show. Nestled between the trunks of a tree, this compositional v-shaped design rivets our attention upon a beguiling young princess. She is treated with great dignity, using the site line vantage point of just below the subject to create a sense of power and poise in this little girl with great aspirations. From the eyes to the hands and tenderly rendered mouth, the artist has given us more than a skillful likeness, but a painting that invites us into a story. We are left wondering, “who will she become…?” And this willful participation with the art nourishes the viewer’s mind as well as heart.

VPS & PSNH 2020 Dual Member Exhibition

VPS & PSNH 2020